Sprouting is the traditional practice of drying or dehydrating a legume/grain just until it starts to sprout and before it is fully sprouted. Sprouting softens the grain so you can cut down on the cooking time and increase the nutrient value. If you want to really maximize the nutrients, you can bypass the cooking process altogether and simply soak them for up to an hour or until you get the consistency you want.
You need to be cautious if you want to sprout your own legumes and grains because bacteria can often form during the sprouting process.
You usually find legumes and grains in three different stages that are ideal for consumption:
The most commonly sprouted items that you are likely to find would be (top picture):
- Sprouted Mung Beans- These are great in a salad, soup, or vegetable dish to add texture and an earthy flavor. They have a pleasant chewy snap that adds a nice dimension to a dish.
- Sprouted Quinoa- Less cooking time then regular quinoa and has a more earthy flavor. Great in salads, a substitute for couscous, used for pilaf, or simply add vegetables for a side dish.
- Sprouted Lentils- You can use these like you would regular lentils or split peas. Great in salads, as a side dish, or added to a soup.
I have been seeing sprouted items pop up on many restaurant menus lately because they really enhance the flavor and texture of a dish. Don’t expect this trend to end any time soon because it has all the elements for longevity and you’ll probably start finding them in your local grocery. There are many other legumes and grains that can be sprouted so keep your eye out.